Edouard Mendy Could Be Frank Lampard’s Final Problem Solver At Chelsea

Frank Lampard will have been left in no doubt that there’s still one issue he needs to sort out at Chelsea, after watching his side win their opening Premier League game of the season.

Chelsea managed to go down to Brighton and beat the Seagulls by three goals to one (BBC Match Report) but it’s that one goal conceded that will have Lampard still craving one more transfer signing this summer.

Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Leandro Brossard produced what seemed like a pretty average twenty yard strike but Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga failed to stop it hitting his net. The current Blues number one seemed slow in getting across his goal and didn’t seem switched on enough to keep the ball out.

Now this is unfortunately not the first time that the expensive keeper has been questioned after a costly mistake.

Kepa has conceded nine times with the last thirteen shots that have been aimed at his goal. He consistently falters when facing shots from outside his penalty area and he hasn’t collected a single corner since the start of last term!

The twenty-five year old seems to have lost all confidence and it also looks like Chelsea boss Lampard has serious doubts about his goalie. Towards the end of last season, Lampard would bring in veteran Argentine keeper Willy Caballero to keep goal in his side’s more important encounters.

Chelsea have been very busy during this transfer window as Frank Lampard solved various problems he had within his squad.

The Blues gaffer wanted an experienced centre-back to help shore things up at the back – Brazilian international Thiago Silva was brought in.

Chelsea needed a top quality forward to help lead the line – £45m was spent in bringing prolific German attacker Timo Werner from RB Leipzig (Source Sky Sports).

More goals are needed from central midfield – Young German star Kai Havertz has come in after banging in twelve goals in the Bundesliga last term.

A fresh face was needed to offer more creativity – It was agreed that Hakim Ziyech would be an ideal candidate and he was purchased from Ajax.

The only problem that still remains with in Lampard’s Chelsea squad comes in between the sticks. The Blues have been linked with various goalkeepers all summer but alas no one has come in to compete with Arrizabalaga for the number one jersey.

It now seems as though Edouard Mendy could be the man to come in as the club’s new goalie, with Talksport currently reporting that a £20m deal is ‘imminent‘.

If Mendy is as good as the last goalkeeper Chelsea signed from Ligue 1 side Rennes, then they’ll have a superstar on their hands. Former star Petr Cech became a Stamford Bridge legend after making the same move in 2005.

Edouard certainly looks to be a better choice when you compare his stats with Kepa’s during the last campaign.

Twenty-eight year old Mendy kept more cleansheets, even though he played less minutes. The Senegalese international also conceded on average less than a goal a game, whereas Kepa was conceding more than a goal a game. Mendy was also making more saves per game and had a greater save percentage too.

At six foot six, Edouard Mendy would add more stature within the Chelsea penalty area. You certainly imagine he’ll make more of an effort in collecting crosses.

If you look at last night’s Brighton goal, Mendy would bring in traits that would’ve probably seen him cover himself in more glory. The Rennes man is very quick on his feet and that allows him to cover his goalline effectively. He is more than capable to get down quickly to cover lower shots that come in at his goal from distance. The goalie possesses quick reflexes and makes good decisions when it comes to shot-stopping.

After his team’s victory Frank Lampard stated he was happy with Kepa:

“I am very happy with Kepa,”

“With the shot I’m not sure if he could’ve done any better. But I saw a bit more confidence in how he was playing. Kepa is here, he’s our keeper and I’m happy with him.”

Lampard Via The Guardian

I don’t think the Chelsea manager was being entirely honest but his words were understandable. There’s no point in kicking Kepa Arrizabalaga when he’s down.

Yet if Chelsea bring in Edouard Mendy this week, then they’ll show the world that they know that they need another goalkeeper at the club if they want to seriously challenge for titles this season.

Everton Now Have Balance And Added Quality To Push Top Six

Everton enjoyed an impressive start to their Premier League season as they secured their first league win over Tottenham Hotspur since 2012.

The 1-0 win over Spurs (BBC Match Report) was the first time the Toffees support could see their new look side with James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure all in action.

I am in no doubt that that Blue-noses would’ve been extremely happy with what they saw!

Too many times last term; Everton’s midfield was overrun, out worked and didn’t have the creativity needed to really open up tough encounters.

Being a world class coach that sort of failing in his squad wouldn’t go unnoticed by Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti.

That’s why the Italian brought in these particular three stars during this offseason.

All three played yesterday as if they had always been wearing Everton Blue.

The Goodison Park side have missed a top class ball winning midfielder since they sold Idrissa Gueye to PSG last summer. Allan came in against Tottenham and showed he’s got the ideal skill-set to come in and protect his team’s defence.

As well as making plenty of challenges (winning 4 out of 8) and interceptions (2), The Brazilian also completed 46 passes (Stats from Whoscored).

His debut performance saw him awarded the man of the match award by Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville and had Blues legend Peter Reid gushing on twitter:

Ancelotti worked with Allan during his stint as Napoli boss and you can see why he was so desperate to work with him again. At no point did Allan look flustered or even as though he was playing at his peak!

Abdoulaye Doucoure completed his switch from Watford a week ago (Source Evertonfc.com) and he too fitted into his new team seamlessly.

The twenty-seven year old is clearly used to the English game and his work ethic on the pitch was never questioned as he covered every blade of grass and pressed whenever possible. He was diligent in covering the right side of midfield and was disciplined too (winning 2 tackles and making 2 interceptions).

In the right games, I am pretty sure we’ll see Doucoure making lots of intelligent runs into the box and getting on the end of chances. He is the dynamic midfielder that will link the engine room with the final third.

If Allan, Doucoure and Andre Gomes gave Everton a strong midfield foundation to build upon, then the inclusion of attacking threat James Rodriguez offered a new creative force to the mix.

The Colombian star was played further forward on the right side of The Toffees frontline but that didn’t mean that James didn’t work hard for his teammates. No player made more interceptions than Rodriguez, who completed three. 

Importantly he also added guile into the Everton team. Another new boy that didn’t seem to feel any pressure when he was on the ball. His glorious cross field passes had Blue-noses falling in love with him instantaneously!

The former Real Madrid man made forty-seven accurate passes and created five chances for his fellow forwards. I am certain that Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison will thrive once Rodriguez truly gets his eye in for key passes and when they fully understand what he’s capable of.

People might ask if he’s going to be quick enough but his game intelligence is super and that alone will have him a cut above most opponents as he can see things unfolding before they do so!

Carlo Ancelotti was certainly impressed by how quick James Rodriguez has come in and settled into the Everton way:

“He did four days of training and his performance was outstanding. This is what he can do on the pitch.”

Ancelotti Via Liverpool Echo

It might only be the start for Everton’s new boys but what a start it was. They looked a different team than the one that limped over the line last term and that’s mainly down to the three new signings.

Allan, Doucoure and Rodriguez gave Everton more bite, energy and quality on the the pitch and those improved traits could secure The Toffees a famous season if they can consistently find their top form!

Gabriel Shows Arsenal’s Transfer Dreams Can Come True!

London seems to be awash with Brazilian centre-backs but both Thiago Silva and David Luiz may have to step aside as Arsenal new boy Gabriel Magalhaes could go on and prove he’s the real deal in the Premier League.

The twenty-two year old arrived at The Emirates this summer in a €26m deal from Ligue 1 side Lille OSC (Source BBC Sport). Less than two weeks later and Gabriel starred in The Gunners defence as they enjoyed a 3-0 win over Fulham in their opening league game of the season.

The young central defender played in a back three with Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney. Holding has still to prove himself as a first team regular, while Tierney is a left-back finding his feet as a left sided centre-half. Yet Magalhaes commanded that backline as his defensive partners took every instruction. The Brazilian’s command of the English language might not be there yet but his footballing language certainly seems up to speed as he was telling teammates to push out or take their men in set-piece situations.

Arsenal have often lacked that leadership in the heart of their defence.

Gabriel was particularly impressive in the air yesterday. No player won more aerial duels and The Gunners have lacked that assertiveness in the air during the last decade. He also grabbed a debut goal by climbing above everyone else and steering his effort into Fulham’s net.

As well as being assured in the air, the centre-back was also more than capable with the ball at his feet. Gabriel had 122 touches of the ball (the most of any player) and he also made 114 passes, boasting a wonderful 95% passing success rate (Stats from Whoscored).

Not for such a long time has a new Arsenal centre half came in and impressed me this much on his debut. His performance will give lots of Arsenal fans reasons to be optimistic about their chances of finishing in the top four this season.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was understandably pleased with the showing of latest recruit:

“He showed today his character and his personality because he hasn’t played any football in six months,”

“He only had a couple of sessions with us but we needed to play him today and he was terrific.”

Via Arsenal.com

The player himself was also jubilant after his debut but also seemed focused on having a strong season with The Gunners:

The challenges will get tougher as the campaign progresses for both Arsenal and Gabriel Magalhaes.

David Luiz could actually come into his own as a mentor for his younger compatriot.

Luiz has always performed at his best playing in a back three and it looks like Arteta is set on playing that formation with Arsenal. That tactic could mean that Luiz and Gabriel get the best out of each other. Luiz is less of a liability playing with two defensive teammates, Magalhaes’ concentration levels and heading ability should cover up some of David’s usual failings.

I also think Brazilian international Luiz thrives when he’s set out a clear task to help when playing with younger players. David’s communication at the back should see Gabriel becoming more of a commanding influence sooner as he’ll be able to build up a quick understanding with his veteran teammate.

When you look at the fees currently being discussed for Kalidou Koulibaly and the eventual price tags of Virgil van Dijk, John Stones and Harry Maguire then you can see that Gabriel Magalhaes will become an absolute bargian buy if he can live up to his early potential.

I think that €26m will be money well spent as Gabriel, in my opinion, will go on to become one of the best defenders in the Premier League.

Kai Havertz Could Be Real Game Changer At Chelsea

After a summer long chase, Chelsea finally managed to secure German international Kai Havertz as their latest big money signing.

The former Bayer Leverkusen man arrives at Stamford Bridge after completing a whopping £71m switch (Via BBC Sport).

Chelsea have been very busy during this break and have made a number of strong moves during this transfer window.

Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech will bring a new dimension to The Blues attack. Ben Chilwell is a proven England international left-back and that’s a position that was a bit of a weak link last term.

Two new centre-backs have also been added to the ranks. I think Malang Sarr is probably more for the future and I won’t be surprised if the French Under-21 star spends next term on loan. I am not a huge fan of Thiago Silva, he seems to go missing or crumble in the big games, but I can understand why Chelsea would want a more experienced centre-half within in their squad.

Yet for me, the main purchase has to be Havertz.

The twenty-one year old midfielder has all the tools to become a world-class talent!

I’m extremely pleased that The Blues recruitment team decided to go all out for Kai instead of making a move for Champions League winner Philippe Countino. Not that Coutinho isn’t a fine player but if you look at Chelsea’s best signings, they all seem to arrive in London ahead of their peak years and not during them or when they’ve passed them by.

Havertz will be a player that’s hungry to prove himself at the highest level, show the Premier League that he can shine and compete with Chelsea’s other talented youngsters.

The German can be a very versatile operator too. He seems to play mainly as a number ten but he can play out on the right, deeper in midfield and even as an unorthodox nine.

Last term he played in forty-five games for Leverkusen, scoring eighteen times and contributing with eight assists. Kai also recorded on average two shots per game and had a passing success rate of over 85% (Stats from Whoscored).

Those are phenomenal numbers for such a young midfielder and in a top league like the Bundesliga!

The Aachen native has great instincts when it comes to making runs into the box and he’s also good with both feet, dare I say like a young Frank Lampard! He has the pace to beat defences, the control to hold onto the ball and the ability to remain cool under pressure when finishing off chances. The youngster is also nice and tidy on the ball and has an eye for a nice through ball.

The technically gifted player is also very decent with his head and his performances for Bayer Leverkusen have seen him earn seven caps for his national side, scoring for Germany against Argentina.

Havertz will provide the Blues with another goal outlet and like Eden Hazard and Lampard before him he’ll give English defences something different to think about when it comes to defending against Chelsea.

I think he’ll arrive at Chelsea as a modern day player maker who has the intelligence to get things right more often than not.

In Frank Lampard, Havertz has a terrific coach to learn from and one who likes to give youngster the best possible chance to prove themselves.

The London giants are clearly delighted with their latest purchase:

‘Kai is one of the best players of his age in world football, so we are very happy that his future lies at Chelsea. He has proven pedigree in one of the best leagues in Europe, he plays for the German national side and he is an exciting, dynamic talent. We are delighted to be able to add his versatility and quality to the squad before the season begins.’

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia Via Chelseafc.com

Chelsea have been very impressive this summer in their transfer dealings. I’m guessing they’re still on the lookout for a new goalkeeper. But I think Kai Havertz will be the standout signing and he could prove to be a top Premier League star that could help get Chelsea challenging for major trophies next season.

What Manchester United Will Be Getting In Donny van de Beek

BBC Sport have confirmed that Manchester United have agreed a £40m fee with Dutch giants Ajax for midfielder Donny van de Beek.

So what will United get if that purchase goes through?

Firstly they will get a valuable extra option in the central midfield area.

Last term both Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic suffered from injuries and the team missed both experienced stars. Fred and Scott McTominay weren’t fully on form for all parts of last term and I feel time might be up for Andreas Pereira at Old Trafford.

Van de Beek can play as an orthodox central midfielder, as a number ten or even as a holding player. That versatility again bolsters United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s options in the middle of the park.

The twenty-three year old already has a wealth of experience. He has made more than 100 Eredivisie appearances in last four seasons and was also key in Ajax’s impressive runs in the Europa League and Champions League in recent years. Donny will also bring a winning mentality with him, having won three medals during his time playing in his homeland.

The Netherlands international has a keen eye for goal or to set up chances for teammates. During his time in Amsterdam, Van de Beek scored 41 times and created 34 assists. He has the vision to create in crowded areas and that could bode well for United’s attackers next season. His ability to time a run is crucial to his scoring of goals, the Dutchman often arrives late and with space to put away chances much like the much talked about Kai Havertz.

On the ball he can be very efficient, last season he averaged at 80% for his passing success rate. He has the engine to get from box to box and help both defensively and in attack during games. The crafty midfielder also possesses neat footwork and that allows him to dribble beyond opponents and turn in tight corners.

The versatile star remains composed under pressure and that adds to his defensive traits. He averaged 2 tackles per league game last term and a six foot, he’ll give United some extra height in the middle of the park.

Donny’s style has attracted glances from Europe’s top clubs and compliments from great managers. Before a Champions League tie with Tottenham Hotspur, then Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino stated his admiration:

“Van de Beek. Nobody talks much about him,”

“But he has a dynamic in the game, he gets behind Tadic, he arrives, he works, he scores goals.

“Logically, I love De Jong and De Ligt. But the example of the operation of this Ajax is Van de Beek. I like very much. They have a young player, from the academy, in each line, that shows what the team is.”

Pochettino via Planetfootball.com

These are all plus points for Solskjaer and Man United as they look to add to their squad and become realistic Premier League title challengers again.

People are all ready questioning Donny van de Beek’s ability to get into the Manchester United team and he hasn’t even signed yet. But as a squad he will bolster United greatly and I won’t be surprised to see him move around The Red Devils engine room as they try and battle on all fronts during the next campaign.

COVID-19 and Football: The Effects on Sports and the Solutions

The coronavirus pandemic has affected and put on hold many things in life. Sports is one of the activities that were canceled when the infection curve started to rise. Football, one of the favorite sports in Europe, was not spared either.

According to officials, this has affected both the players and football fans. The lockdowns, travel restrictions, and other measures put in place by the governments and WHO officials could not allow football to be played in stadiums or even fans to witness live games.

But as countries try to manage the pandemic and open up their economies, FIFA and other football officials have been negotiating deals on how to ease the effects on football for the sake of maintaining clubs and keeping fans entertained.

Cancellation of Games

When the pandemic started to pick up and lockdowns and travel bans started to take effect, most European football matches were canceled. For instance, many Italian Serie A matches were suspended indefinitely while many others were canceled altogether.

Most professional players who were used to earning a lot of money every week started to get depressed. Fans were not spared either since they could not attend live games or at least stream matches live.

Postponement of Games

Important football matches that could not be canceled were postponed to later dates with a hope that the pandemic will have subsided. Many European and Asian clubs postponed different matches to later dates as they waited for more guidelines from health officials.

In an attempt to address the fans and keep them in the loop, FIFA and other football officials said that the advantages of postponing matches rather than canceling them all together include preventing the spread of coronavirus and that there is an assurance that they will be played later.

Other Effect

Today, the pandemic woes are still ongoing. Although restrictions are still there to curb the spread, football is gearing back into action. For this, there are guidelines set by the football officials to safeguard the players and fans.

·           Online streaming – Instead of fans flocking stadiums to watch their favorite games, football clubs are encouraging and facilitating online streaming of matches. Therefore, only players who will be in stadiums playing matches while fans enjoy this on their screens at home.

·           Strict screening of players – Before any match, players are strictly screened to ensure that they are clean from COVID-19. Officials confirmed that all players will be checked daily and positive cases will be isolated to avoid putting others in any danger.

Assessing the Risks

Despite all these moves by European leagues such as Italia Serie A, La-Liga, French League and Britain’s Premier League have been warned of the dangers of flaunting COVID-19 regulations. Doctors and health officials say that even if teams play behind closed doors, there is the danger of spreading the virus among the players and other hundreds of people in the stadiums.

However, officials have insisted that they are observing all measures that will prevent the spread of infections. Their other aim is to keep football afloat and continue entertaining the fans.

Luis Suarez Could Be An Ideal Signng If Tottenham Were To Sign Him

It looks like it’s going to be a very busy summer for FC Barcelona.

It has been heavily reported that superstar forward Lionel Messi has told the Spanish giant’s hierarchy that he wants to leave before the transfer window shuts (Source BBC Sport).

That stunning news has really caught the attention of the world’s media and any football club with a substantial wealth have been linked with the Argentine’s signature.

But Leo isn’t Barca’s only top class attacker who could be ready to depart the Camp Nou in the next month or so.

New Barca boss Ronald Koeman supposedly made the instant decision to tell Luis Suarez that he was no longer wanted by the Catalan side. Football365.com have now stated that the La Liga club are looking at terminating the Uruguayan hitman’s contract.

No doubt many teams in Europe will be interested in the sublime goalscorer.

Yes, he’s now in his thirties and has suffered a bit with injuries but he still knows where the goal is and has the pace and intelligence to get away from opposing defenders.

For me, an ideal destination for Suarez could be Tottenham Hotspur and I think they should jump at the chance to sign the striker.

We all know that Harry Kane is a leading scorer in England’s top flight. But we also know that the English international captain picks up injuries during a campaign and Spurs miss him greatly when he does. Luis would certainly have the guile to led the line for The Lilywhites.

But that doesn’t mean that Suarez would be seen as just being Kane’s back-up. Suarez has history of playing out in the wings but I actually think Spurs could go with two up-top with Kane and Suarez rotating playing as the number nine.

Now before we question veteran Suarez’s ability as he’s getting older, the Uruguayan will leave Barcelona after scoring 198 goals in 283 appearances for Los Cules. In what was seen as a being a disappointing year for Luis last term, he still bagged twenty-one strikes and created ten assists. That is still terrific numbers for any leading forward in a top league.

I have no doubts that Spurs manager Jose Mourinho would love to work with the passionate, yet sometimes hot headed, Suarez.

The ‘Special One’ enjoys working with players that have a nasty side to their game and who possess plenty of self belief – Just look at his relationship with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

After Luis scored and celebrated against his former club Liverpool in the Champions League, Mourinho was quick to praise the hotshot forward:

“Luis did something which is good and I love it,”

“Many players today in football, they play and sometimes, even playing which is an emotional moment, and is a moment we are paid for, they still care with the image and some moments where people can say, ‘oh, nice fair play’ and, ‘oh, nice, he’s playing against the team where he played for a few years and where he was loved’.”

“That has nothing to do with this 90 minutes. And for this 90 minutes he forgot that he played for Liverpool.”

Jose Mourinho via 365Footballhttps

The Spurs gaffer won’t care about the Uruguayan’s age. It means more to him that the attacker is still a fine finisher and has Premier League experience.

Spurs supremo Daniel Levy may also be keen given the fact a fee might not be involved!

I really think it would be a great move for all parties if Luis Suarez were to join Tottenham Hotspur this summer. He’d give them more attacking options, a winning mentality and a passion that will improve the London club’s first team squad.

Are Man United Making Same Transfer Window Mistakes?

Last season Manchester United improved their league form and finished in third place in the Premier League.

They also managed to finish the campaign off with losing performances in the semi final stages of both the FA Cup and the Europa League.

Yet for Man United, improving and becoming nearly men simply isn’t good enough. Their fans continue to expect more!

That’s why it’s bewildering that United haven’t managed to strengthen in the transfer window thus far.

Last summer, they went out and bought Daniel James in early doors and they also reached a quick transfer to bring Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace.

But then when it came to their main priority they hummed and hawed trying to do a deal with Leicester City over Harry Maguire before finally agreeing to pay The Foxes asking price in early August.

All summer, last year, they were linked with Bruno Fernandes but they only eventually brought the Portuguese international in during the winter transfer window. They again dithered and didn’t pay the asking price until eventually changing their mind in the next window.

It now looks like this window may provide the same pitfalls for United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and their main deal-maker Ed Woodward.

The main transfer target seems to be Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho. Early rumours speculated that United were preparing an £80m bid, the Bundesliga club are believed to want £110m for the England international.

Now the Sunday Express are reporting that United are willing to delay a move for the wide player by a year. Why? Are they expecting the price to fall dramatically in that time? It didn’t when it came to Fernandes and Maguire! If it does then it will signal that the player has’t reached the heights he has in the last two years and why would The Red Devils want him if he isn’t as efficient?

Plus if you need him to fill a void within your squad, then that position will still need to be filled this summer at Old Trafford. So if they don’t go for Sancho, then they need to go after someone else.

I still think they need another centre-back.

Former target Kalidou Koulibaly could be on the verge of signing for Manchester City (Via Sports Illustrated).

United may be interested in Gabriel but have yet to put in a bid. It has been rumoured that Lille have agreed a deal with Napoli and Arsenal for the Brazilian defender, with the Daily Mail stating The Gunners are close to completing their move for the twenty-two year old.

Again why are United stalling on making a move for whomever their preferred defensive target is?

Then you’ve got the deadwood that’s still at Old Trafford. Yes they’ve managed to move Alexis Sanchez on but the likes of Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Diogo Dalot are still there. I don’t really know if I’d keep Juan Mata, Eric Bailly, Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira there either.

All this is happening while teams that finished behind United in the Premier League are doing more to strengthen their squads. Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea have all made significant signings.

When Manchester United were at their best they were a well run like a well oiled machine both on and off the pitch. Sir Alex Ferguson identified areas he needed to improve and drew up a shortlist of targets to fill that void. Those players would usually improve the United squad and they were brought in at the right times.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to get that process back into Mn United’s philosophy!

Why Wolves Are Ready To Go Again Despite European Reality Check

There are few clubs in England that can match the rollercoaster ride that has been Wolverhampton Wanderers over the past decade. 

After falling from the Premier League to League One in consecutive seasons before an immediate return to the second-tier, things settled down for a few years. That was until Fosun International took over and things really picked up when they appointed Nuno Espirito Santo twelve months into their reign. 

Since then, the ex-Porto chief has brought almost unimaginable success to Molineux, winning the Championship title in his first campaign before recording back-to-back 7th places finishes in the top-flight. That brought a memorable Europa League run that was deservedly ended by Sevilla at the quarter-final stage (Source BBC). 

A failure to have another season in Europe has prompted talk that this Wolves side could be picked apart – which is understandable. After all, Adama Traore has been unplayable at times with his pace and power, Raul Jimenez is a complete number nine and Ruben Neves continues to impress in the heart of the midfield. 

Plus, those individuals, and others, may feel they’ve hit the ceiling with Wanderers and a quick glance at the latest football betting odds ahead of next season shows Santo’s men are outsiders to finish in the Champions League places – the level those individuals will feel they belong. 

Thinking about it like that could cause some Wolves fans to panic. However, it’s important to remember that they are backed by wealthy owners who are determined to take the club back to the top (Via The Mirror). 

Plus, the vast majority of the players that would attract attention from elsewhere are secured on long-term contracts. Essentially, that gives the power to the West Midlands outfit in negotiations and it ensures only a ridiculous fee would see them sell one of their prized assets. 

More importantly, they have a manager who has shown he can work wonders and the bond that Santo has with his players means they will believe he can take them to the top. 

But, there’s no getting away from the fact that Wolves are short in key areas. Their summer dealings twelve months ago did not work out at all and the lack of options from the bench is a major issue when you compare them to fellow top four hopefuls.

So, that’s what needs to be addressed in the coming weeks but Wolves are starting from a strong position. 

They have a boss that commands respect and is tactically astute, they have links with an agent that gives them an edge with recruitment, a board that have deep pockets and a squad that aside from Joao Moutinho has its best years to come. 

The defeat to Sevilla put Wolves’ European dreams on hold for at least another year and highlighted the areas that need to be improved. In the bigger picture though, the foundations are in place for the club to sustain their challenge towards the top of the Premier League and there should be a lot of optimism about just how high the team can go under Nuno Esparto Santo’s guidance.

Willian Will Offer Arsenal More Than Ozil

Arsenal have announced that they have signed Brazilian internationalist Willian (Source Arsenal.com) on a three year contract, after he let his contract run down at London rivals Chelsea.

Much has been made of the length on the forward’s new deal, three years for a thirty-two year old is pretty long. People have also questioned the fact that The Gunners are reportedly paying the veteran £220k a week for those three years (Via Teamtalk).

The only player at the Emirates that will earn more than Willian is German World Cup winner Mesut Ozil. The German hasn’t really featured much under current boss Mikel Arteta and even his former gaffer Unai Emery would leave out Ozil for the bigger games.

Many a Gooner believe that Mesut simply doesn’t merit his huge wage packet and they might be worried that the same might be the said of Willian.

Now while I would have said a two year deal would have been sufficient and that over £200k a week is pretty excessive, I do believe the Brazilian will be a better asset to Arteta than Ozil has been.

In his prime, Mesut Ozil was a superb player and a world class assist maker. But he hasn’t been of that standard for the last two or three years at Arsenal. He doesn’t work to help the team defensively and he doesn’t provide enough going forward in the matches that really matter.

When you see the German now, you don’t see a player who is out there to prove himself or willing to give everything for his team or teammates.

I don’t think the same will be said of Willian.

The former Chelsea man played in thirty-seven Premier League games last season. He ended the campaign with nine league goals and seven assists to his name.

The attacker doesn’t go missing in the bigger games; last term he scored a brace against Spurs, grabbed a goal in his side’s win over Manchester City, scored against Liverpool in the FA Cup and created an assist against his new employers Arsenal.

Willian will add experience and versatility to the Arsenal attack. I also think he will lead by example and show a desire to prove himself, just as he did at Stamford Bridge.

Arteta has highlighted such traits in his new signing:

“We have been monitoring him for the past few months, we had a clear intention to strengthen in the attacking midfielder and the winger positions [and] he is a player that gives us a lot of versatility, he can play in three or four different positions.” 

“As well he brings a lot of quality and something that we need, which is winners. He has the experience to win almost everything in the football world but still the ambition to come here and contribute to bring the club where it belongs.”

Mikel Arteta via Arsenal.com

Willian is always a performer who does great work but is often overlooked. People sometimes get caught up in watching stars like Eden Hazard and Neymar. It sometimes gets forgotten that Willian’s hard work, his calm nature (he doesn’t throw his toys out of his pram) and his craft go unnoticed. Yet without his consistency, I would argue that his team’s would have suffered greatly!

If I was an Arsenal fan I wouldn’t be worried about Willian signing on and becoming the next Mesut Ozil. I honestly believe he will offer the club more under Mikel Arteta and help get more from the great youngsters that are currently exciting the Gunners faithful!